Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form


Reynolds, Dahliani (2012) COMPOSITION AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENTS: PROJECT ENGLISH, NEH SEMINARS, AND THE NATIONAL WRITING PROJECT. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB) | Preview


My dissertation assesses Project English (1962-1968), the National Endowment for the Humanities Seminars in Composition and Rhetoric (1973-1987), and the National Writing Project (1974-present) as moments of productive engagements with public constituencies. Drawing on personal interviews and archival research, I complicate a disciplinary commonplace: throughout its history, the field has failed to redress public critiques of student writers and writing instruction. The initiatives in my study provide sustainable models for revitalizing disciplinary responses to recurrent public outcries about the failures of literacy education. Among their strategies worthy of emulation are: 1) using rather than resisting public concerns about the real problems of literacy education, 2) promoting a broad definition of literacy to counter public calls to return to “the basics” of writing instruction, 3) forging alliances with elementary and secondary school educators across the curriculum, and 4) framing writing as a bipartisan issue. I argue that composition and rhetoric scholars can enrich the field’s responses to public criticism of our work by drawing on such strategies to build connections with multiple stakeholders across disciplinary and institutional boundaries.
Composition and Public Engagements: Project English, NEH Seminars, and the National Writing Project rewrites the field’s history of engagements with multiple publics, especially the federal government, to highlight positive moments in our past that might embolden us to re-imagine possibilities for communicating with public stakeholders in our current moment. In addition to this historiographic intervention, my dissertation contributes to contemporary conversations about how to ensure that composition and rhetoric scholars are valued participants in public discourse about literacy education. It is crucial that the field sustain productive responses to such conversations because, as my dissertation shows, they not only shape public policy, they inform the field’s research agendas and pedagogical commitments. As my analysis of Project English, the NEH Seminars, and the National Writing Project makes evident, literacy education is inescapably both public and political, shaping our curricular choices about what to teach and our pedagogical choices about how.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Reynolds, Dahlianidar60@pitt.eduDAR60
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairEnoch,
Committee CoChairBialostosky, Dondhb2@pitt.eduDHB2
Committee MemberBartholomae, Davidbarth@pitt.eduBARTH
Committee MemberColes, Nicholascoles@pitt.eduCOLES
Committee MemberGodley, Amandaagodley@pitt.eduAGODLEY
Date: 2 October 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 June 2012
Approval Date: 2 October 2012
Submission Date: 20 June 2012
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 229
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Literacy Crisis, Rhetoric, Pedagogy
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2012 16:19
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2017 05:15


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item